Please nitpick a potential quiet/silent system for me...

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada

Please nitpick a potential quiet/silent system for me...

Post by GreatScot » Mon Jul 06, 2009 8:35 pm

Hi folks.

Silent/quiet computers has recently become a fascination of mine. The Lenovo they've given me at work has a video card with what must be a 60mm fan that runs (very roughly) at about 12,000 RPM... it sounds something like a Dremel tool.

About a year or so ago, I got a new system for Windows... P182, moderate AMD dual-core CPU, TRUE cpu heatsink and Sycthe 120mm fan for it, an Asus PCIE passively cooled video card and the SeaSonic S12II 380W PS. The HDD's and optical drives are all pre-silence fascination, so are sorta noisy. If all these parts look familar, it stands to reason... they were all chosen from the "Reference/Recommended" lists... and I couldn't be happier with it.

Now my server is starting to falter... I've just gotten married and moved, and cash is a little thin on the ground... so being economical is pretty important. So it's got to be fairly low-cost. That's the bad news.

The good news: The "server" can be just about anything I can get my hands on... the OS is FreeBSD, which I ran on my Pentium 120 quite happily for years. I'm not running Xwindows on it, basically it's used to host my personal webpages (using Apache), control the DSL connection, perform Network Address Translation for other PCs on the network, email (Pine - yeah, I'm old old old school).

Now you know the rationale and requirements, my proposed system:
Based around the Zotac Ion ITX (A, B or C), with a 32GB SSD, optical drive disconnected once the BSD install is done, no monitor or other peripherals.

I'm leaning towards the Zotac "C" board: PS included, no unnecessary WiFi (it will be wired in with Cat5), only a single core but again, dual-core isn't really necessary for the load this will be running. So far, a system entirely free of moving parts, as I fully intend to run the Zotac MB without the optional CPU/chipset fan.

This basically leaves choice of case, really. Looking for a case that has more than ample circulation, to keep the MB/CPU cool while running 24/7, and the cooler it runs, the longer it lives... and the less I'll have spend in the long run replacing it. With the mini-ITX form factor, I'm at a loss... Initially I was thinking of the Antec mini-P180, undervolting the 200mm fan and just letting it run. I don't need an HTPC case, but if there's a recommended one that's cheaper than the mini P180 and has exceptional airflow, I'd certainly entertain the notion.

Can anybody recommend something that would compete in terms of price-point, silence, cooling and performance? The Ion ITX board kills 4 birds with one stone: MB, CPU, CPU cooler and PSU... and I can get the C at my local shop for about $200 Cdn.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have!


Posts: 400
Joined: Thu Oct 02, 2008 5:48 am
Location: Orlando, FL

Post by Ch0z3n » Tue Jul 07, 2009 4:32 am

Why do you keep your cash on the ground? Seems like an odd place.

It looks like to me (I could be entirely wrong since I don't know what all of the processes entail) that you wouldn't be doing much writing on the server and the read speed isn't exceptionally important. You could save a few bucks and install a linux distro on a USB key; maybe even load it onto a ram disk.

I don't think you need 'exceptional' airflow, you need 'just enough'. You are talking about a system that idles somewhere around 20w or so and doesn't ramp up much from there. I think most any ITX case would work; you might have to replace a fan or 2. As long as you have a fan on, I think you should be fine.

Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada

Post by GreatScot » Tue Jul 07, 2009 7:31 pm

Thanks for the advice, Ch0z3n.

I guess I'd rather have "more than enough" rather than "just enough" air circulation... and to be honest, I have no idea about itx cases... have to start figuring out which of those might give me what I need.

I might just end up with the ridiculously oversized mini P180 anyway, in case I decide to use the case for a normal micro ATX motherboard system... and depending on what itx cases run for cost.



Posts: 279
Joined: Tue May 05, 2009 1:15 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Post by ascl » Wed Jul 08, 2009 1:51 am

I suspect you are worrying about it too much. A system like that is going to be running very cool, so almost any case should be fine. Just replace the fans with something decent (in fact one fan will likely do).

That said, given you are trying to save money, why not pick up a cheap 2nd hand system? You'll probably still need a case, but you can probably get an old system for very cheap or even free if you look around. Your requirements are very slim, and is silence that important? Don't you have it shoved in a cupboard somewhere? :)

Posts: 134
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:32 am
Location: California

Post by piglover » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:54 am

I'd consider something like the M350 from mini-box. See here: ... ategory=87. You can't get much smaller, its really well ventilated and with that Zotac board you'd have no trouble at all running it completely passive. US$40 here - don't know what you'd pay CDN from a local distributor.

Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:44 pm
Location: Montreal, Canada

Post by GreatScot » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:51 am

Thanks for your input, piglover and ascl!

I think ascl's right... I am worrying about it a bit too much. I see that my local decent computer shop's carrying the Antec ISK-300 model. Replace the 80mm tri-cool with a couple of Scythe s-flex or Nexus (anybody know a local Montreal dealer? or Canadian online dealer?) and I think I'd have a very unobtrusive system in a small footprint with plenty of air circulation.

And yeah... worrying about it too much... but where's the fun in not playing the "what if" game when it comes to new hardware? I might as well just buy a branded computer then! ;-D

Seriously, though, I'm starting to feel like I'm zeroing in on what I need.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to the SPCR community for their relentless fascination with quieter computers!


Post Reply